This past week my son took a giant step forward in the pursuit of a lucrative acting career. His dream of working for George Lucas is turning into a reality right before our eyes. And it is moments like these that I can say that I am glad to have been a part of the journey. Yes, I can say that, but I am not...not this time, anyway.
My son's school held it's annual winter program last Thursday at a building that some said was a church. This "church" however, was none like I have ever seen before. Before I go on, let me say that I am in no way making fun of any religion, church, practice, belief, or anything like that, rather I am just giving you my interpretation of what my eyes saw, and I will let you be the judge from there. In addition, I suppose the Greater Being (insert preferred name descriptor here) is everywhere, so the building itself could be anything from nothing to the most ostentatious structure in the world, right? Anyway, enough with the disclaimer...
So, we pull into an office park full of medical offices and other types of businesses. Smack in the middle, we find the, umm, church. It stands a few stories tall, and has a very mall/office building look to it. The congregation has a choice of two doors to enter where the sermons take place, but we will get to that later.
In the lobby to your left (or right, depending on which door you entered from) appears to be an information desk that rivals (and may even win) those in a mega-mall. Since we were here to attend a school function and church was not in session, I cannot be 100% sure what the desk was for, but it sure looked like a place to get directions.
Since the first auditorium door was stuffed with anxious parents waiting to point identifying fingers toward the stage and gleam with joy at their child's perfected performance, we made our way down to the less-populated doors. On the way we noticed an ATM-like machine. The kiosk stood about five feet tall, had a computer screen, and a card reader that seemed the perfect size for a credit card or ATM card. Still unsure of its intended use, we moved forward to the doors we would later enter.
For our viewing pleasure during our wait, we were treated to scrolling photos of various kids, which appeared to be taken during the school year. Having moved to the area just two months ago, we had absolutely no idea who these kids were and I felt like I was watching some stranger's summer vacation slide show...not my idea of excitement, that's for sure. However, I can say with 99.9% accuracy that if my son was in one of those photos, I would have watched the entire slide show repeatedly just to catch a two second glimpse of him...but he wasn't, and therefore, the slide show was quite boring.
Although the slide show was humdrum, the interesting part was what the slide show was on. Picture, if you will, six 50" high definition televisions standing on their sides, pressed up against each other in a row, with some type of psychedelic light show traveling a few feet above and below the televisions. After you see that in your mind, look to your right and see six more identically placed television next to the first set of doors. I guess I never realized Jesus had gone so high-tech, but then again, why would he not? Perhaps the televisions were there for the Sunday afternoon crowd...you know, that way the football games could be displayed while church was in service...but I didn't see any Lazy-boys around...however, the bathrooms were conveniently placed in between the two sets of technical miracle projectors, so you never know.
Finally, about forty-five minutes after arrival, we were ushered into the grand auditorium. Walking up the neon blue tube-light lit stairs, we found our seat. Yes, each step (and there were a whole bunch of them!) was lined with a tube light, similar to those found in a movie theater or airplane, only the light was a very dreamy and heavenly electric blue that produced a magical, warm and fuzzy feeling in my noggin. The movie theater style seats were comfy, but I cannot recall the last time I was in a church that had stadium style seating, so that threw me off a bit. They sure were nice for the winter performance, though!
In the center of the room stood a sound board most audio-visual geeks (like me) would be envious of that took up four or five rows of seating. The control panel operated the superior sound system for maximum clarity preaching, I suppose. The Broadway stage type of lighting must have been controlled in one of the multiple windowed rooms, at the back of the mega-meetinghouse, that over-looked the immense area one would assume the "alter" would be placed. The stage was big enough to make The Lyric jealous...well, maybe not that big, but it was still a decent size! Then it dawned on me...I knew what that ATM looking thing in the lobby was for! After looking at all of this technology and fancy apparatuses, the church had to pay for it somehow, right? Therefore, I pondered, it must be a tithing machine...yes, that's it, simply slide your Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover, or ATM card through and voila! Yes, even He takes plastic, now.
So, in this church we sit, waiting patiently for our son to make his big North Carolina acting debut. The first set was a group of primary students. The first few seconds of the performance was nearly perfect with all of the kids signing clearly and in harmony. Then, the confusion started. One or two of the little Pavarottis started signing slightly off cue...which threw the others off...then the short attention spans kicked in and a little wandering began. But, kudos must be given to the teachers since these little tykes sat relatively still for three songs, and sang (mostly) from memory without the help from the adults.
The next few skits had everything your typical elementary school play would have...one or two kids not paying attention, forgetting lines, walking on stage at the wrong time, and running around trying to catch up. Yes, it was a scene from a blockbuster movie indeed, well, not quite the rock concert in the movie "Love Actually", but...well, you get the idea. I think it was at this point that I started to doze off a little...
So, two and a half hours had passed since we first stepped foot in the door and our son was finally about to make his presence known. Yes, his big NC debut was about to unfold...When the young narrator mentioned "China" and "dragon" in the same sentence, I woke from my nap. Yes, I kinda dig dragons and more importantly my son said he was in this skit, so it was time to be alert. Fortunately, I perked up just in time to see four pairs of shoes attached to four pairs of youthful legs, covered in a long, flashy, and red dragon suit. There he was! The second pair of legs belonged to my son...Man, was I proud. My finger pointed to the stage, I sat a little taller, and joy gleamed from my smile. He walked effortlessly and flowed with the other three sets of dragon legs, just as they had rehearsed for weeks. Then, two minutes later, poof!, he (and the rest of the dragon) did an exit stage left and that was that. A half of an hour later, the show ended.
As another parent reality check popped up (me waiting two and a half hours to see two minutes of my son...err, son's legs and being ok with that), my son spotted me in the crowd and he weaved his way through the sea of proud parents, up the neon blue stairs, to give me a big hug. "Did you see me, Dad?" he asked with a sense of extreme pride in his voice. "I did! And you did great!" I remarked. His smile, hug, and sense of accomplishment made the night a night to remember. Yep...two and a half hours to watch two minutes. And yes, I really was proud of him!